El Salvadoran Man Pleads Guilty to Human Smuggling of Illegal Aliens; Two Illegal Aliens Sentenced for Unlawful Return After Removal
Gulfport, Miss. – Juan Andres Garcia-Hernandez, 33, a citizen of El Salvador and a legal permanent resident living in Maryland, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden in connection with human smuggling of illegal aliens in Jackson County, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans, and Michael J. Harrison, Acting Chief Patrol Agent of the Border Patrol’s New Orleans Sector.
Garcia-Hernandez will be sentenced by Judge Ozerden on October 1, 2020, at 9:30 a.m., and faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as $5,100 in special assessments. He also faces removal proceedings to remove him from the United States.
On December 16, 2019, in Jackson County, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle eastbound on Interstate-10. The agent approached the driver, Juan Andres Garcia-Hernandez. When asked for his driver’s license, Garcia-Hernandez provided a permanent resident card and said he had lost his Maryland driver's license. The agent saw six passengers in the SUV, and detected numerous signs of smuggling. He eventually determined that none of the passengers had proper documents to be legally in the United States.
All vehicle occupants were transported to the Border Patrol station in Gulfport, where the passengers were identified as four citizens of Guatemala; one citizen of Mexico; and one citizen of El Salvador. All six passengers were identified as being illegally present in the United States. Three of the six were confirmed to be illegal aliens who had been previously deported or removed from the U.S. and had knowingly returned without lawful permission.
Two illegal aliens who had been passengers of Garcia-Hernandez pled guilty and were sentenced for unlawful return after removal. Obel Juventino Miguel-Perez, 35, a citizen of Guatemala, and Ivan Sanchez-Gonzalea, 27, a citizen of Mexico, were each sentenced to “time served” (or effectively 6 months imprisonment) and one year of supervised release. They will also face Department of Homeland Security removal proceedings to remove them back to their home nations.
U.S. Attorney Hurst praised the cooperation exhibited by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stan Harris is the prosecutor for the case.